Necessity is the mother of invention: using non core staff to provide core services: Debra McCann

Presented at the CONUL Conference, July 2015, Athlone, Ireland by Debra McCann, University College Dublin
Staff retirements, stringent budget cuts, recruitment constraints imposed by the Employment Control Framework all combined to threaten UCD Library’s capacity to continue uninterrupted core services. This talk will discuss how this issue was addressed, and will analyse its success and benefits, and also its challenges.
In the last three years, staffing levels in Client Services have decreased, shelving duties were undertaken by permanent part time floor services library assistants who provided 200 hours each week. In 2013, 13 students were employed to complement that cohort’s capacity, which retirements had reduced to 80 hours per week.
Given the overall decrease in staff levels, 22 students were recruited last year, and the range of duties assigned to them expanded to include not only Shelving, but Facilities, stock deselection, and circulation. As the academic session comes to a close, and plans for next year are formulated, it is timely to review this strategy and to now share the outcome.
On balance it is strongly felt that the benefits to the library outweigh the challenges. In this talk I will describe the recruitment process and selection criteria. I will discuss the development and delivery of a training programme for a staff cohort where time and availability is restricted. Supervisory issues and administrative workload are also noted. Issues of retention are identified. Advantages and challenges for the students are also recognised, and feedback provided by the students is included.
In conclusion, recommendations are made for future recruitment and development.